Months of campaigning are finally over and the battle for the Pilbara seat has come down to two men whose passion for this region is laid bare for all to see. With the final result still too close to call between Brendon Grylls and Kevin Michel at time of print, we sat down with both to talk about the campaign.
Nationals incumbent Vince Catania has been re-elected in the Lower House seat of North West Central, promising to keep Royalties for Regions running.
Mr Catania has held the seat since 2008, originally elected as a Labor Member of Parliament, but switching to the Nationals in 2009.
Labor challenger Shane Hill, who held the seat of Geraldton from 2001-2008, gave Mr Catania a run for his money but lost through preference distribution.
Mr Catania leads 2982 (58.8 percent) to 2090 (41.2 percent) with 50.74 per cent of the votes counted.
With Labor in Government, Mr Catania said his win was “bittersweet.” “I think the challenge for us as the Nationals party is to hold Labor to account,” he said. “They don’t have a track record for spending and looking after regional WA.
“We’ve had an amazing eight years of delivering Royalties for Regions, and every community in my electorate has had great benefits from it.
“Our challenge is to keep Royalties for Regions going.”
Top of Mr Catania’s priorities for North West Central was to ensure Labor keeps funding for the Carnarvon Community College in the budget.
Mr Catania said the Nationals would also fight to keep funding for aged care, the agedcare pension fuel card, and funding for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Although Mr Hill hasn’t conceded the seat, he said he was “not confident” he would win the electorate.
“It’s a big electorate and we did well with a small campaign team,” he said. “It was one we never expected to win but I think the Nationals have taken a bit of a toll.
“People are demanding a bit more action from their MPs and I think that’s what we’ll find in North West Central; they’ll hold Vince accountable and want him in the electorate more often.”
Mr Hill returned to work on Monday, where he is the executive officer of Meenangu Wajarri Aboriginal Corporation. He said he would continue to support the Labor party as a branch member but was pleased to return home.
At 817,083sqkm, North West Central is the State’s largest electorate and covers 32.2 per cent of WA.
Covering a more conservative area around Carnarvon and a mining area in the north, the seat has normally been marginal and often ignores Statewide swing.
WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls said Mr Catania had worked hard on his campaign.
“He was out putting corflutes on the NT/WA border, that is pretty impressive,” he said. “Vince has a long political career ahead of him and I wish him all the best.”
Nationals North West Central candidate Vince Catania, centre, has claimed victory in the sprawling seat.